Final Silverlight 2.0 ships Tuesday

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11:56 am EDT October 14, 2008 - BetaNews has verified that Silverlight 2.0 has been released on schedule, and that the update process has begun.

1:03 pm EDT October 13, 2008 - In a teleconference today, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie told the press that the company's 2.0 version of Silverlight will be ready to ship tomorrow, October 14.

Windows users who have already downloaded and deployed Silverlight 1.0, or any of the betas of Silverlight 1.1/2.0, could very well wake up tomorrow to find their platforms have been automatically upgraded, as the platform is capable of silently upgrading itself using the WSUS service.

Brian Goldfarb, who directs the Developer Platform Group, also added that a number of Silverlight-related projects will be launched for the open source community. Most interestingly, a community technology preview is being released of a development environment that will bridge Silverlight 2.0 with the Eclipse environment. This CTP will include an IDE that enables XAML editing and C# authoring within Eclipse.

The XAML vocabulary, Goldfarb added, will be added to Microsoft's Open Specifications Promise, the company's unilateral pledge not to sue anyone who uses this intellectual property if they, in turn, do not sue Microsoft. An initial set of eleven common Web controls for Silverlight will soon be made available under open source licenses, on Microsoft's CodePlex distribution facility.

Silverlight 2.0 is the first edition of the company's graphical development platform to enable development using not just Web languages such as ASP.NET AJAX, but procedural languages such as C# and Visual Basic, and dynamic languages such as IronRuby and IronPython -- essentially any language that's currently supported by the .NET Framework. However, deployment does not require .NET to be installed separately, since Silverlight contains a subset of .NET.

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3:30 pm EDT October 13, 2008 - In its competition against Adobe's Flash platform for video and graphical ubiquity over the Web, Microsoft's Scott Guthrie said Silverlight 2.0 will concentrate on producing the kind of premium experiences that make Flash video by comparison look blocky and ordinary. He cited Microsoft's largely successful partnership with NBC in producing the site last summer, as proof of exactly the type of consumer Silverlight will be targeted toward.

"The people who watch Silverlight video on-site stayed on the site an average of 27 minutes per visit, which is pretty unheard-of for any type of video event ever done on the Web before," Guthrie told the technology press in a Web conference this afternoon. "Hopefully this is a testament to, if you have really good quality experiences, you can provide tremendous stickiness in terms of customers visiting and being happy on your site."

Silverlight's strategy thus far has been largely successful, even if it hasn't exactly pried Flash off of folks' Web browsers. It provided a smooth, sharp video component which, when placed up against Flash side-to-side, can often look more crisp and attractive. But Microsoft has rarely ever given away anything that it couldn't leverage for a greater opportunity in the future, and with Silverlight, there's no exception. There's a little piece of the .NET Framework with every Silverlight; and up to now, version 1.0 has been limited to an ASP.NET AJAX implementation that leverages the graphics platform on the client side that Microsoft used to call "WPF/Everywhere."

Granted, the betas of version 1.1/2.0 have perhaps been more widely distributed than the old 1.0 edition. But now, officially, with a fixed feature set, the 2.0 platform gains the ability for developers to use any .NET-capable language, including the more procedural C# and Visual Basic and the more dynamic IronPython and IronRuby, to build a distributed application over the Web.

New sets of Web developer tools will be introduced tomorrow, including:

  • A service pack for Expression Studio 2 to support Silverlight 2 in Expression Blend.
  • A new set of Visual Studio 2008 development tools for Silverlight 2
  • A new Visual Web Developer Express, the free development platform for ASP.NET AJAX, JavaScript, and CSS, which will also be upgraded with the latest Silverlight 2 tools

Add to this the Silverlight support that's coming to the open source Eclipse platform, as Brian Goldfarb explained: "We're announcing support to fund a project with Soyatec, a French IT solutions provider and a member of the Eclipse Foundation, to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into Eclipse. This project will be released under the Eclipse Public License version 1.0 on SourceForge, and anyone will be able to get access to that technology tomorrow as a preview, with the final bits shipping in the second half of next year."

Next: What changes with 2.0?

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